First, the confession. I don't really like Adventure Island. My experience has been limited to the PC Engine version which is loosely based on the Famicom/NES version. The game seems too simple and too hard at the same time. You need only two buttons, one to jump, the other to shoot and run. There's all manner of tricky jumps and things to avoid, the weapons are all short-range, and the game practically begs to be played fast. Unlike that other fast platform game (That's Sonic, FYI) Adventure Island offered tight controls and obstacles you could actually see before you slammed into them. That's the good news. The bad news is you have no hit-meter for anything but the rocks you occasionally trip over, and all enemies will kill you with one touch.
The end result is a game that compels you to run faster, penalizes you when you don't react fast enough (or memorize the level) and gives you the perfect control you need to do it. Then it starts getting hard fast.
The GameCube version of Adventure Island is, like Star Soldier + Bonk's Adventure before it, a very exceptional remake of an old game. Like all of Husdson's other classics however the old adage that you'd best be careful of what you wish for because you just might get it comes to mind. This is oldschool gaming. This is damned hard and unapologetic for it. It's also very pretty, though I'm not entirely convinced I like the surreal, nearly photo-realistic graphics. To be sure they're an acquired taste, much like the flat colours with paper-textures applied you found in Bonk's Adventure. I think this is a more mainstream idea. I apologize for the screenshots. While things tend to be camoflauged in them please allow me to assure you there is no difficulty seeing enemies or items when the game is actually in motion.
This game is a remake of the NES version, not the PC Engine version, identical right down to the enemy placement and level design. Obviously it's seen a bit of a graphics overhaul, but fundamentally it's exactly the same. The music has been redone, the sound is now stereo and very clear. The game has only one extra feature - you can now play a challenge mode and race for records in distance and time. That appears to be it: no bonuses like the commercials found on Bonk, and no unlockables whatsoever.
This is what we all ask for in the face of countless first-person shooters and tiresome 3D adventure games. It's oldschool, it's tight, it's hard, and if you liked the original you'll love this. Sadly for all of us and for Hudson as well that's a recipe for certain death, because we've all seen that giving the fans what they want isn't how you make money. Fickle bastards that we all are we finally get what we asked for and we just won't buy it.
Famicom/NES Adventure Island
PC Engine Adventure Island
GameCube Adventure Island